Culture and Methods of Lighting Design


Maurizio Rossi
Politecnico di Milano


light, lighting, lighting desig, light history, lighting standard, light pollution, color, visual perception, sustainability, design method, culture, science, entertainment, CAD, BIM, IT


Lighting Design is a technical and creative activity influenced by cultural, perceptual, technological, communicative, methodological, and economic aspects. It is multidisciplinary. The need to manage a medium as intangible as light presents technological and methodological difficulties in developing projects. Today's lighting project requires operators capable of effectively connecting the perceptive, technical, economic, and socio-cultural dimensions and of starting from here to propose new design syntheses. In this context, the most relevant changes are to be found in methodological and technological innovations, represented by international standards, new light sources, and innovative tools that information technology (IT) and the Internet have made available to support the process of lighting design. Until the advent of LEDs, the way of designing lighting evolved slowly over a century, hand in hand with the development of technological innovation typical of the electromechanical industry. In recent years, however, companies in the lighting industry have been busy metabolizing the new lighting technology represented by LEDs, which have almost replaced other artificial light sources. LEDs are photoelectronic components and lighting companies, accustomed for decades to working in the electromechanical sector, had to quickly acquire skills in the electronics sector and adapt to the rapid development of products in the electronics sector.

The first chapter introduces the culture of lighting design in the relationship between human beings, understood as users or designers, and lighting. The figure of the designer develops in the relationship between social tasks, technical skills, and the definition of the professional profile of the Lighting Designer. In the methodology of design, there are new drivers of innovation, which in less than fifteen years have led to a radical change in the working methods of the designer.

The second chapter focuses on the ways in which artificial electric lighting has changed the lives of humans over the past century. It also analyzes the leading areas of research and development in the field of lighting and the consequent areas of intervention of the lighting design work in a period, such as the current one, of strong innovation in tools and methods.

The past decade has seen the proliferation of new standards that define quantitative requirements and introduce qualitative lighting criteria. In the third chapter, attention is paid to methods resulting from the environmental sustainability issue, the aspects relating to energy savings, the end-of-life of lighting products, and the regulatory situation.

The fourth chapter examines human beings and their visual perception. Color and light are two aspects of the same visual sensation and must be considered in the context of our visual system's perceptual adaptation. The human visual system (HVS) is then placed in relation to the lighting project's process aspects and the potential and limitations of virtual project simulation to evaluate the qualitative and perceptual aspects of lighting.

This book was born from research at the Lab. Luce and teaching experiences, gained since 1997 at the Politecnico di Milano, in addition to experiences in the direction of the Master in Lighting Design & LED Technology and the Master in Color Design & Technology.


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